What Do You Know About Overtraining?

Overtraining also involves the lack of rest and muscle recovery after exercise. This is very important since muscles need rest in order to heal the fibers that have been torn during exercise.
What Do You Know About Overtraining?

Last update: 15 January, 2019

Believe it or not, overtraining causes injuries, muscle fatigue, and prevents the accomplishment of set goals. That’s why you must be careful to avoid overloading your muscles or ensure that your routines aren’t more demanding than your body can handle. We’ll tell you more in the following article.

What is the overtraining syndrome?

It’s known as the overtraining syndrome when we perform physical exercise excessively in terms of the routine’s intensity, frequency, or volume. This means going to the gym every day, lifting much more weight than we should, or choosing activities that we aren’t prepared for, such as a marathon.

It doesn’t only refer to going to bed early or not fulfilling the eight hours of “mandatory” sleep each night. It’s about not allowing the muscles to recover from one day to the next. When we train daily, the fibers don’t repair and it’s easier to suffer injuries, as well as fatigue.

Overtraining often occurs in professional athletes when there isn’t proper planning or if they’re preparing for a major competition (for example, boxers or Olympic athletes).

Overtraining doesn't allow the muscles to recover.

What many do not realize is that this excessive exercising is counterproductive. It can even ruin a sports career when the injuries are serious or require prolonged treatment.

Several factors can cause the overtraining syndrome. Some of them have to do with a clear dislike for our body or our performance. In others, it’s a kind of addiction that generates well-being while performing the exercise and then produces depression, anxiety, or anguish in the resting stages.

In the latter case, much of it has to do with the effect of hormones, such as adrenaline (which increases during a vigorous activity) and serotonin (which produces a good mood when present in high doses).

Symptoms of overtraining

In theory, everything seems very simple, but in practice, it isn’t so; especially when we can’t identify that we are training too much (or more than our body can support).

The good news is that the body gives us very specific signals when it needs rest. It’s just a matter of paying attention to them. Overtraining has the following consequences:

  • Slow or incomplete recovery
  • Muscle pain that doesn’t stop
  • Persistent fatigue
  • A sensation of tired or heavy legs
  • Loss of motivation (or the need to have difficult challenges).
Overtraining can cause loss of motivation.
Getting bored or excessively used to a routine lowers your motivation.
  • Irritability, changes in mood
  • Depression, anxiety, anguish when not training
  • Changes in appetite (moments of gluttony and others of apathy)
  • Not seeing results in relation to the amount of training being performed (stagnation or regression)
  • Problems sleeping, nightmares, insomnia
  • Increased heart rate (pulse) when not exercising
  • Need to rest all the time
  • Lack of concentration and memory
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty trying to relax (due to very high adrenaline levels)
  • Frequent injuries
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn
  • Susceptibility to respiratory diseases

How to avoid overtraining

The indications that we’re training too much are different in each athlete. However, we can identify them by just paying a little attention.

If you notice a handful of overtraining symptoms, it’s necessary to stop training for two weeks. Yes, this is correct! Even if it seems impossible at a certain time of the year, with a tight competitive schedule or with a need to achieve a certain goal.

Seek help from a sports trainer to help you put together an effective calendar that includes exercise, but especially recovery periods. Perhaps your trainer will even indicate to you that you must reduce the level of intensity or frequency in which you train.

Keep in mind that overtraining isn’t good for your health, both physically and emotionally. Unlike popular belief, training more predisposes you to injuries and a setback in everything you’ve accomplished so far. In many cases, it’s, therefore, better to stop and rest a bit. Your body and mind will thank you!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Suay, F., Ricarte, J., & Salvador, A. (2007). Indicadores psicológicos de sobreentrenamiento y agotamiento. Revista de Psicología Del Deporte.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.